Summertime is the time that many people enjoy water sports that include the use of a boat. Water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing are activities that take place in lakes, rivers, and oceans all over the country. Often boats are synonymous with drinking alcohol. Coolers are filled with alcoholic beverages to go hand and hand with the waves, the fun, and the ambiance. What many people fail to realize is that boating and drinking is a big no-no – just like drinking and driving.
Someone who is under suspicion of operating a watercraft while intoxicated would receive a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) misdemeanor. All 50 states recognize boating and drinking as a dangerous crime that could mandate some serious repercussions. Any captain of a boat who has a Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% to .10%, depending on the autonomy of each state, can be charged with a BUI. They can receive hefty fines, jail time, and a possible suspension of their driver’s license.
Another cause for concern is that you can get drunker on a boat quicker than if you were drinking on land. The Coast Guard confirms this reality along with other factors such as the sun, dehydration, and the vibrations of the boat which cause rapid intoxication. Boaters may also have the preconceived notion that the Coast Guard is not actually watching them during their water mission – but they are. Not only are they trying to protect a captain from harming his boat and himself, but they are also watching out for other passengers and other boats who are also on the water.
One other misconception that someone may have about a BUI is that they are only limited to alcohol consumption. Since a BUI stands for “boating under the influence,” this includes all drugs including marijuana. A person may not believe that they will get caught for their drug use because a breathalyzer does not pick up the intoxication level of drugs. If they are under suspicion of a BUI, however, they can be taken into custody where a blood or urine test will be administered to get the results of what is in their system.
The best way that boaters can stay safe on the water is to not drink and boat. Designate a person to mane the boat in the same sense that you would have a designated driver on the road. Boating is supposed to be a fun activity – until something unfortunate happens from boating under the influence which could sink your entire time.
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